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Irish Cup Final To Be First Football Match in UK With Fans in Attendance Since March

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The National Stadium at Windsor Park has a capacity of more than 18,000

Friday’s Irish Cup final between Ballymena United and Glentoran is set to be the first played in front of spectators in the UK since March.

Restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a suspension of action and when games resumed they were behind closed doors.

Ballymena and Glentoran have both been allocated 250 tickets for the final at the National Stadium at Windsor Park.

The Irish FA revealed last week that 500 supporters could attend the match.

The move follows the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in NI with fans allowed to attend outdoor sports events.

Football’s governing body in Northern Ireland had been in discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive for several weeks in the hope that some supporters would be permitted to attend the showpiece event of the local footballing calendar.

Monday’s Irish Cup semi-finals, which saw Ballymena and Glentoran beat Coleraine and Cliftonville respectively in penalty shootouts, were both played with no fans in attendance at the south Belfast ground.

Supporters will be accommodated inside Windsor Park on Friday in line with social distancing guidelines.

Glentoran have indicated that they will first allocate tickets to players’ families, Club Vice-Presidents, Club Life Members, Life Season Ticket holders and key volunteers “who give their time and energy to the club throughout the year without charge”.

The remainder of their allocation will be placed in a raffle including all season ticket holders.

The East Belfast club say they will provide all their tickets free of charge “as the Board of Directors wish to thank those volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help the club through the recent public health emergency and to reward as many of our loyal season ticket holders as possible”.

Ballymena have drawn a ballot amongst season ticket holders, match day staff and volunteers.

Derry City will return to League of Ireland Premier Division action on Friday but their fixture against Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell will be played behind closed doors.

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